Railroad Commission to Require Testing of Disposal Wells in Johnson County

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Austin – The Railroad Commission of Texas today notified four disposal well operators near Thursday’s estimated 4.0 magnitude earthquake in North Texas they would be required to conduct well and reservoir testing. Five wells are within 100 square miles of the estimated epicenter. Last year, the Commission adopted rules allowing the collection of such data related to seismicity.

As a result, the operators have voluntarily agreed to temporarily shut down to conduct the testing within a matter of days. The testing will help determine the effect of injection operations on pressures within subsurface rock formations. Test results will provide important data and information to determine what, if any action is necessary to address seismicity in that area.

Railroad Commission staff will continue to work closely with seismic researchers and industry to collect, analyze and evaluate seismic data and oil and gas activity in the region to better determine if there is a connection.

“We take the issue of seismicity very seriously and want to move quickly to better understand if there are actions the Commission should require of operators to protect the public, up to and including shutting down well operations,” said Dr. Craig Pearson, Commission staff seismologist. “More data is always useful in making these kinds of critical decisions that impact the public and the industry.”

Last year, the Commission passed some of the most comprehensive rules on seismicity in the country, which allow the Commission to collect data and information on operations relating to seismic events. This data and information can then be used by the Commission when appropriate.

Additionally, immediately following Thursday’s earthquake the Commission dispatched inspectors to the area to inspect oil and gas wells and disposal wells for any damage resulting from the event. No damage to infrastructure was found or detected.